June 20, 2013

Guest Post: Z’s tips for you (Part Two)

By Zia Patel

You in a page: Composing your CV

Welcome back!

First, thank you very much for your emails for the first blog. It was a relief to hear that the tips were useful. The more feedback you give me, the more helpful I can be.

Second, this blog. I would like to share some tips regarding your CV now that you have done your research and shortlisted the companies where you see yourself working, developing and contributing.

I am sure that through your school advisor and the internet you will have already seen many examples of formats and structures for a CV. I will focus on some elements that are important to me when I read resumes or interview a potential candidate. You might find this helpful.


  • Remember that people in charge of recruitment get many, many resumes on our desks and emailed to our inbox. You have just one chance to make someone sit up and pay attention. You must, must pay attention to detail. It shows you care.
  • Whether you want a role as a strategist, a creative or an account manager- you are applying to a creative firm. This means that you need to pay attention to detail. And I mean just that: page grid, page layout, font (go for maximum readability), font size, alignment, leading, and kerning. This level of detail even extends to the paper: type, color, brightness and weight. White (but not too white) and heavier paper stockwork well. I can assure you that your choices will make an impression. Hopefully, a killer first impression.
  • However you choose to layout the information- please make it an easy read. This is a personal request but I’m not unusual: everyone appreciates clarity. Find ways to separate each section so that it is clear to me or anyone else.
  • Your CV has to be one page. No, I don’t care how good you are and what amazing things you have done. I’m busy, the phone is ringing and I have a client meeting in 10 minutes. If a CEO or a Creative Director can put his or her resume on one page, I am sure you can too! You will lose me instantly if your resume runs to two pages or if you use 9 point type to cram it all in.



 (Picture courtesy: dexway.com)

  • Normally after the name, email and other statistics, I get CVs where people describe themselves as: interesting, enthusiastic, passionate, driven, etc. Avoid this. Remember that you don’t tell your friends that you are funny. You crack jokes to make them laugh. When you get the face-to-face meeting, this is your opportunity to demonstrate that you are passionate, enthusiastic, and so forth. For now, the point of your one pager is to simply get your target to say, “Ooh…this is someone who might fit what I am looking for.” So, concentrate on writing about you and your experiences in an interesting way straight after sharing the vital statistics. Remember again, I don’t have time.
  • I understand you are in the early stages of your career. Perhaps you can’t provide that sort of proof of your abilities but any kind of experience, whether it is organizing an event at school or helping out with the design of an invitation card, gives you something to say. And when you write, do so in the first person singular, using “I” rather than “we”.
  • Do spend some time writing two or three bullet points (not sentences) describing your specific assignments- what you did and the impact it had. Keep the sentence structure simple. Be succinct and clear. Use specific words and phrases when explaining your past experiences so that you create a “visible string” between you and the position you want. This bit of the CV is not easy, we have all struggled.
  • Don’t BS.  By this I mean be honest and modest. If you speak a few words of French, don’t say that you are fluent in French because then I will expect you to help me run a client workshop in French. I have caught juniors doing this to impress me. Once caught, my trust is broken. This is the end of the interview. The same applies with your knowledge of design programs. But I must let you know that I do pay attention to the skills and extra curricula activities sections. I am always on the look out for interesting and different people- like you. I spend a lot time on planes. I want to be with an interesting colleague – wouldn’t you want the same?
  • When you do send your CV via email, one small but important detail is to pay attention to the name of the file. Don’t name it CV.20.06.13.pdf or MyCV.pdf. Instead, name the document after yourself so that I can find it easily on my (messy) desktop.
  • And finally, bad grammar plus typos equals trashcan. Watch out.


By the way, you might find it interesting to know that in addition to the one pager, some people have really gone out of their way to make their resumes stand out. One candidate sent a cake with their experiences written in icing. Another sent 1.5m long scroll listing 1000 reasons why she loves Wolff Olins. Well, a cake is always welcome and flattery is all very well but a simple and powerful animation of experience in a chronological manner, without the gimmicks, is also interesting.

That’s all from me. I will be looking out for your emails.

Next time, I will help you think about your cover letter –  but as a cooking recipe.

Good luck with your CV. Speak to you again in two weeks.

Zia Patel is a principal at Wolff Olins and the head of strategy for Wolff Olins in India and Dubai. She is here to help energetic, creative and young people like you. You can contact her on Zia.Patel@wolffolins.com to keep the conversation going. Visit www.wolffolins.com to learn more about Wolff Olins. Read Z’s first blog here


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  1. shwetha nadgir



    Would be helpful if you gave us tips on making an impressive portfolio as well mam.. :) this one was good.. (Y)

    • Wolff Olins Team



      Hi Shwetha,

      Thanks for your note! Yes yes, it’s coming soon :) Next week we will be talking about Cover letters and the post after that is all dedicated to Portfolios. So, stay tuned!

      Wolff Olins Team

  2. Im impressed, I must say. Really seldom do I see a blog thats both educational and entertaining, and let me tell you, youve hit the nail on the head. Your opinion is outstanding; the matter is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about.

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